Photo: Jen Causey; Prop Styling: Kashara Johnson; Food Styling: Marianne Williams

And they’re all easily accomplished in the Instant Pot. 

Briana Riddock
July 24, 2018

Rice is my all-time favorite carb in the whole universe. When people say they are going on a low-carb diet and rice is a starch that gets axed, my heart breaks for those souls. I could never do it. In my years of rice cooking, I have picked up a few easy ways to enhance the flavor of the oldie but goodie, long-grain white rice. I’ve already discussed the wonders of toasting it. And before you even ask...no, I don’t wash my rice. I know many will disagree, but I thoroughly enjoy the rich starchiness of unwashed rice—I also enjoy not losing a portion of my dry rice grains down the sink whenever I attempt to wash it. Beyond your rice cooking technique, a few simple ingredient additions or swaps (especially when it comes to the cooking liquid) can make a world of difference in the starchy side dish you ultimately enjoy. 

Here are a few of my favorite low-effort ways to kick basic white rice up a notch.

Make it green.

Turn your white rice into a vibrant pot of green goodness by adding a couple of fresh herbs and aromatics that not only colors but infuses your rice with bright, earthy flavor. For this delicious Instant Pot rice recipe, we incorporate flat leaf parsley and cilantro, along with onion and poblano, into the rice by processing them in a food processor with a portion of the cooking liquid (i.e. water or broth/stock) to create a thin paste. Stir the mixture into the rice with the remaining cooking liquid to boil and steam as usual. This will result in a lovely shade of pastel green and evenly dispersed flavor. Finish the rice with a squeeze of fresh lime for a burst of acidity.

Make it yellow.

You can create some of the best yellow rice of your life with ease thanks to your Instant Pot and the addition of highly potent, but delicate saffron threads. Seriously, a mere ¼ teaspoon of saffron is enough to fill your fluffy rice with fragrant honey, floral, and grassy notes. Simply add the saffron threads to the cooking liquid as it reaches a boil before the rice is added; this will yield a beautiful orange-yellow color and unapologetically addictive flavor.

Another way to color and season your rice is adding turmeric powder to the pot. Again, you won’t need much of this powerful spice to enhance your rice to golden glory. When you utilize that handy toasting technique on your rice, you can toast both the dry rice and about ¼ to ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder together in oil to bring out both ingredients’ finest flavor potential. Incorporate a few other flavor building blocks such as garlic, onions, scallion, fresh citrus juice, and crushed coriander seed for even more oomph.

WATCH: How to Make Easy Oven Rice

Go cuckoo for coconut.    

Butter isn’t the only ingredient that makes for a rich and fluffy pot of rice. Coconut milk and coconut cream are the intensely delicious, non-dairy additions you need to work into your rice routine. Swap out ½ cup of your cooking liquid for ½ cup unsweetened canned coconut milk to create a delicately sweet, aromatic rice dish. If you opt to use coconut cream (not to be confused with sugary cream of coconut), simply stir in about 2 tablespoons cream into the rice right before you cover it to steam. 

RELATED: Coconut Milk—What’s the Difference Between the Can and the Carton?

Not entirely sure what coconut cream is? For starters, it’s the buttery alternative that you need to know about. Coconut cream is just the concentrated layer of cream that settles out from the liquid in a can of coconut milk. When you chill a can of coconut milk, that luscious layer that firms up and floats to the top is your coconut cream; get into it. This cream, popularly used to make a non-dairy whipped dessert topping, is an easy way to make your rice coconutty and luscious.  

Enjoy how delicious easy tastes.

Sometimes, all you want/need is a standard pot of white rice… and you can cook that in your trusty Instant Pot too. In fact, it’s a great hands-off, fuss-free alternative to the stovetop when you’re hustling to get dinner on the table or simply don’t feel particularly gifted at stovetop rice cookery (we get it). And I don’t need to tell you, there are nights when the tastiest meal truly is the easiest one (which is also why we at MyRecipes are also huge fans of this foolproof oven rice recipe). To prep fluffy white rice in the Instant Pot, simply add about 1 cup dried rice with 1 ¼ cup unsalted chicken broth or stock, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt to your pot; cover and set the rice function to cook for 10 minutes. Now go about whatever other dinner prep you have to do without worrying about burning or boiling over—the Instant Pot has your back on this one. 

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